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Letter to the Editor: A Cry for Help in Turks and Caicos

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#TurksandCaicosIslands – June 15, 2020 — I am writing this article with a heavy heart and with tears streaming down my face. I am an active member of the TCI Bariatric Group that was formed on WhatsApp approximately one year and one month ago by a number of TC Islanders. This group was initially formed by three ladies and to date we have twenty seven members comprising of both male and female.

For those of you who do not understand the term Bariatric, it is simply means the medical treatment of obesity which is being seriously overweight and a number of us have been deemed medically morbidly obese.

We as a group decided to put pen to paper and to bring our issues to the public to see if there are any persons with ample resource who will be able to assist us in any way possible. Some of us have been in constant battles with the government for way over three and a half years, yet to no avail. We are being turned around and toyed with as if we are not humans. We were told that if we got referrals from the doctors, that our issues would be place before the cabinet and that it should not be a problem for us to be given the bariatric procedure which is so badly needed to save all of our lives, so we all went and got numerous of referrals, some exceeding as much as five. We followed the necessary procedures, only to be told that are referrals were refused because the NHIP Policy does not cover this procedure and that it is deemed a cosmetic procedure. This here was a kick in our gut because collectively, we knew of persons who received breast augmentations, tummy tucks and I believe even Botox; all of these were cosmetic.

However, the breast augmentations and tummy tuck surgeries were to alleviate pain on the breast thus rendering them medically necessary. Well we have members in out group with a variety of life threatening ailments and who are immobile, such ailments are lymphedema, osteoarthritis in both knees and their hips, asthma, edema, sleep apnea, angina, blood pressure and the list goes on and on, so if these conditions does not warrant immediate action and deemed to be medically necessary then what is?

We need this surgery to live and I am afraid that if some of us don’t get it soon there could be possible fatalities.

We in this group are all TC Islanders paying our contributions to the NHIP Scheme from its inception and now when we need them the most they have turned their backs on us. They refuse to help us.

We have written to the Minister, the Premier and even to the Governor with our cried and have been disappointed, we haven’t received not one reply from either person. Had we been in any other country we would have been approved for and already given this surgery, and the bad part about it is that the surgery only cost roughly $10,500 in the states and Cayman. Are we not worth $10,500?

Many of you are probably saying it’s only $10,500 why don’t we pay for it ourselves? Well this is because we cannot afford it or we would not have been waiting on government to save our lives and to help us to live longer.

We have spoken to Dr. Maitland and Dr. Bewaji numerous times and have already appeal our decisions, only to be let down with refusals. We need help, we need this government to live up to the promise made to us. We were told that monies have already been budgeted for these procedures from last year budget and as of today nothing. Some of us have been told over two years bow that they are amending the policy to include this procedure under the NHIP Scheme, and to date, nothing yet. Some of us have been given month to month promises for the last three years that hopefully we would be out of here in a few weeks time to a month to undergo surgery, and to date, nothing yet.

Are we not humans? Do we not have a right to live? And what is so hurtful is that this procedure has been done in the past under the PNP Administration, where they sent off a number of TC Islanders to the States for this procedure. So this is nothing new and I really cannot fathom why we are being treated as less than humans? Why all the red tape? Why all the refusals? Why all the hiccups?

We are literally sick and tired of being sick and tired. This run around is not only tiresome and disappointing but it makes us feel as if we are being taken for a granted and as if we are insignificant.

Persons on the outside would look and say, oh go and exercise you all to lazy, or stop eating, you all too greedy and frankly that is not the case. Many of us cannot exercise because of our knees, our backs or something else, and really food is not an issue. It is simply a metabolism issue, a genetic issue or some other kind of medical issue.

I have seen bigger countries facing more serious issues than the TCI, that have amended and approve policies quicker than this, and especially one of this nature. This is because they take health seriously which NHIP obviously doesn’t.

God knows we have been patient and remain to be but this is ridiculous, enough is finally enough and we refuse to sit any longer whilst our lives are being toyed with. Every country we have contacted is offering this surgery free of cost to locals once persons meet the medical requirements, what is wrong with our Country?

You have persons in the TCI Bariatric chat if you were to hear their stories you would cry and probably opt to pay for their surgeries out of pocket. That is how much pain we go through on a daily basis. We pray that this article puts some heat under NHIP so that this process is finalized and we and persons similar to us can get the help that we so badly need.

It is highly logical that having this surgery now will in the future prevent the government for spending more on costly surgeries, such as back surgery, knee and hip replacement surgeries. We really do not understand why they cannot comprehend this? Any government in their rightfully thinking mind would consider this factor and weigh all the pros and cons, and once that is done, there is no way possible that this surgery should be refused.

I write this letter with tears coming down my face because of the pain we are in on a daily basis and have to conceal from the world just so that they will keep the negativity to themselves.

May the good Lord help us and continue to bless these beautiful by nature Turks and Caicos Islands.

Statement from the TCI Bariatric Group

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Crime

Assistance Needed in Identifying Murder Victim

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***MEDIA RELEASE***

 

June 16th, 2024.

The Serious Crimes Unit of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police yesterday (June 15th)  evening responded to a report of a shooting death.

Upon arrival at a location along Five Cays and South Dock Road, Providenciales, officers observed the body of a male with what appeared to be gunshot wounds.

The victim is approximately 5 feet 11 inches tall. He was found wearing red shorts, blue underpants, and a pair of black and white slippers and was shirtless. The individual had a dreadlocks hairstyle.

There were tattoos on both his arms and a cross under both eyes.

The estimated age of the victim is between 25 to 40 years old.

We are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying this individual.

Anyone with information that may help in this investigation is urged to contact the closest police station, 911, the Serious Crime Unit at 231-1842, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477 to provide any information on this murder anonymously.

Additionally, individuals are encouraged to download the CrimeStoppers P3 app to share information anonymously.

 

Murder scene photo by Wilkie Arthur, Eagle Legal News Media

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The Truth about Heaving Down Rock, the National Trust Vs Lew1 Shipping  

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By Hon. Ralph Higgs

 

As humans, it is very easy to forget what the past looked like when we struggle with today’s challenges. Lately, I’ve been reminiscing about the time that I served as the Member of Parliament for North and Middle Caicos from 2016 to 2021. Alongside my dedicated PDM colleagues, we poured our hearts into making life better for the constituents of ED4 and the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Among the many projects we championed, the transformation of Heaving Down Rock in Leeward, Providenciales, stands out vividly in my memory.

Heaving Down Rock has always been more than just a loading point for mariners; it is a symbol of our rich heritage and the spirit of our people. However, before the improvements, the PNP government was comfortable with Heaving Down Rock being nothing but a quarry loading dock, devoid of basic facilities. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the PNP government gave this public property to a party supporter prioritizing personal connections over the public good. Thankfully, that supporter donated it to the National trust after the public got wind of it.

Today, as a result of the work under my Ministry and the PDM Administration, the Heaving Down Rock facility is comfortably used and enjoyed by the commuters of Pine and Parrot Cay, aquatic operators, and cargo and ferry services. The facility is even casually used by individuals and groups for relaxation or fishing.

As we navigate the present and look toward the future, it is crucial to remember these lessons. Our progress from 2016 to 2021 shows what can be achieved with dedication and a genuine commitment to the people’s welfare.

As a proud Turks and Caicos Islander, who has always held the country’s best interest at heart, I can assure you that I will continue to build on our progress.

The impasse that currently exists between the National Trust and Lew1 Shipping is nothing short of a national crisis which has serious and direct implications for the people and businesses on North and Middle Caicos and all the cays in between.

This PNP government should not have allowed it to come to this point. They must intervene forthwith to rectify this situation. It is impractical, if not impossible for Lew1 shipping to operate from South Dock. It will increase the already high freight between Providenciales, Pine and Parrot Cay, North and Middle Caicos by at least three (3) fold. And as most of the journey now would be on the high seas; the ocean, there could be many days when the sea is too rough for Lew1 to travel from South Dock to North Caicos and the islands in between. Thereby making a bad situation even worse.

When I was in office, on many ocassions, the National Trust had proposed increasing the cost to Lew1 Shipping out of Heaving Down Rock. Me and my government resisted as we could not support any higher freight on the backs of the people and businesses of our islands. There were also several ocassions when the National Trust sought to close down Lew1 Shipping operations for non-payment. But again, me and my government intervened. We made sure negotiations continued between Lew1 Shipping and National Trust to prevent any disruption in the  important service that Lew1 Shipping provides to the family islands.

Successsive governments have provided subsidies to local airlines that operate between our islands. They have also provided subsidies for the ferry to run between Salt Cay and Grand Turk. Most recently, the government wrote off almost $2M worth of debt owning to TCIG by these airlines. The time has perhaps comes for the governement to look at the situation that currently exists between Lew1 Shipping and the National Trust. Surely, it could insist that the two parties negotiate a settlement to this matter while it considers a path to settle the debt owing to the National Trust by Lew1 Shipping.

The National Trust is a quasi-government entity and it raises funds through fees levied on users of our national parks and facilities such as Heaving Down Rock etc. Historcially, the National Trust has been poorly subvented and it has been responsible for raising up to 60% of its budget. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the last meaningful increase which the National Trust received to its subvention came under the former PDM administration. This PNP government has not not seen it fit to increase the National Trust subvention in any direct meaningful way. I am reliably informed that the staff of the National Trust did not even benefit from the increase in salaries that this government implemented a few months ago.

I am certain that the current situation between the National Trust and Lew1 Shipping didn’t happen in a vacuum, neither did it happen overnight. The fact that this government could allow the lifeline of North and Middle Caicos and the resort islands of Parrot Cay and Pine Cay to be cut demonstrates the lack of appreciation for value that Lew1 shipping brings to these islands and they simply do not care of about the struggles at the people and businesses face on daily basis.  I am sincerely and respectfully urging the government to order the National Trust to allow Lew1 Shipping to resume operations forthwith and to commence the necessary arrangements to write-off this small debt of approximately of $100,000 which represents about 4 years worth of fees that is owed to the National Trust  by Lew1 Shipping and to find an amicable way to address the other concerns raised by the National Trust.

 

 

Contact Details:

Ralph Higgs

Tel: 649.232.3917

Email: ralphhiggs46@gmail.com

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TCI Red Cross Hits New Heights with 3rd Annual Red Hot Challenge Success  

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June 13, 2024: PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS: The TCI Red Cross recently hosted their successful 3rd Annual Red Hot Challenge, a testament to the organization’s commitment to community engagement and humanitarian efforts.

This year’s event, held at the National Stadium in Providenciales, brought together over 13 teams in a thrilling display of sportsmanship and skills. The Beaches Marlins emerged victorious, with the Amanyara Cruisers in second place and the Beaches Pirates in third.

Speaking on the event, TCI Red Cross Director Candianne Williams said, “Year after year, the Red Hot Challenge fundraiser has grown more successful, and we really could not have done it without the support we have received from our participating teams, sponsors, volunteers and supporters.”

She continued, “When we started the Red Hot Challenge series of fundraisers, our goal was not only to raise funds for the work we do here at the Red Cross but also to create an event that would bring together the community in a spirit of unity, support, and fun-filled camaraderie.”

This year’s event showcased an active lineup of exciting competitions, which included traditional favorites like arm wrestling and tug-of-war, alongside engaging challenges such as football tosses, planks, spoon relay races, egg tosses, water balloon tosses, sprint races, and soccer kicks.

Williams added, “The games were not only interactive for the participants but also fun, and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Beaches Marlins on winning first place in this year’s competition, as well as the Amanyara Cruisers on their second place and the Beaches Pirates on coming in third, respectively.”

Keneisha Thompson, the Turks and Caicos Athletics Association representative, emphasized, “We commend the teams for their participation, especially as this is the only event in the TCI for sporting participants. Their dedication this year, from organizing the rules to meeting the teams and executing the event, is truly remarkable.”

The annual Red Hot Challenge stands as a cornerstone of the organization’s acclaimed ‘Red Hot’ fundraising series, serving as a pivotal event in the TCI Red Cross’s fundraising initiatives. This series has witnessed the success of two corporate sports days and two fashion extravaganzas. These events not only raise crucial funds but also foster community engagement and support for the humanitarian work of the TCI Red Cross.

Karen Whitt of the Hartling Group, who serves as Chair of the TCIRC Fundraising Committee, commended the participants, stating, “Congratulations to all of the participants; you are all winners for supporting this year’s Red Hot Challenge. The event’s success is a testament to the unwavering commitment of our community to support the vital work of the Red Cross in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

This year’s team lineup featured the Beaches Marlins, Amanyara Cruisers, Beaches Pirates, NSS Destroyers, CHHS Eagles, Waterloo Worriers, The Palms, Royal TCI Police Enforcers, Louise Garland High School, NCS, The Sands, and The Source. Proud sponsors of the team included The Strand and The Marlin Limited, with Powerade joining as the official drink sponsor of the games.

The next Red Hot Challenge is scheduled for Saturday, May 3, 2025, at the National Stadium on Providenciales. For more information on the TCI Red Cross and its activities, please visit their website at https://www.redcross.org.tc/ and follow their social media accounts: Turks and Caicos Red Cross on Facebook and @TCIRedcross_ on Instagram.

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